Berlin rides for free!

Berlin, October 12, 2010
With the motto “Think global – Act local!” the Berlin based campaign “Berlin fährt frei” (Berlin rides for free) informed interested Berliners during its kickoff
action on the global action day for climate justice.

The “Berlin fährt frei” campaign puts its action in the context of the global action day for climate justice. From 5 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon humorous small theatre performances and various information material enlivened the Berlin subway lines and stations and many passengers. The aim and focus of the action were to criticize the impact of private motorised transport on the one hand and the motivate a change to solidaristically, democratically organised free public transport that is not based on economic growth on the other.

The campaign found much resonance for its ideas: there was not only unanimous support that public transport in Berlin was to expensive and as first step we need to hinder next year’s planned price hikes, but one passenger doubted that the CO² goals of the Berlin Senate could be reached only with insulation and boiler replacements. A young father remarked that free public transport would reduce traffic in Berlin and make the streets safer for his children.

There was a particularly good reception of the colorfully clad campaigners in the S-Bahn (the regional train, which last had a major crisis due to dwindling security standards), with one passenger asserting: “It can’t be that public services serve the profit interests of large concerns.” Dieter Hartmann, active in “Berlin fährt frei” commented on the positive feedback from passengers during the action: “It is especially the link between environmental protection, social justice, democratic control of common goods and the perspective of a livable city excites people about the campaign.

Only by rethinking our way of life and economy are we able to fulfill our global responsibility on a local level. We’re quite happy about the start of the campaign and invite everybody to make Berlin a poster child for a truly environmental friendly free public transport.

Read more in german:

Berlin Fährt Frei

Schwarzfahren.de

New report: The Traffic Hierarchy

Planka.nu presents The Traffic Hierarchy. The report is a translation of Trafikmaktordningen which was released in December last year and it is also featured in the latest issue of Carbusters Magazine.
Download the full report here [.pdf] or read the introduction below.

tmo

Introduction

One is not born a motorist, one becomes one.

Mobility and class are deeply entangled. Not only because one’s potential for mobility often has to do with one’s economic position, but also because a society built on today’s mobility paradigm – automobility – directly contributes to growing economic and social differences.

A society which puts the car on a pedestal quite obviously favours motorists. Another obvious fact is that white high-income and middle-aged men are an over-represented group among motorists. And the opposite is true among public transport users. But, a society that prioritises motoring, and looks at ever-growing mobility as an almost magical recipe for development, increases the differences between its citizens and different parts in other ways as well.

The current traffic hierarchy, with the car on top and with public transport, bikers and pedestrians at the bottom, manifests itself in the fact that these means of conveyance are given different amounts of space and resources. With the car on top of the traffic hierarchy we get a society built on automobility: a world where our lives, to a far too great extent, are steered by cars.

This article is written to clarify how the current traffic hierarchy manifests itself and what its consequences are: a society built on automobility does not only pose grave danger from an ecological point-of-view, it also enhances the current notions towards greater economic and social segregation. By highlighting the problems with the current traffic hierarchy and starting to map out the edges of another way of planning and handling movement we hope and believe that we can also give some clues on how to handle other societal problems.

The car is pitching us towards each other. Who has not experienced the feeling of putting oneself in a car and suddenly being transformed into a motorist? The pure act of putting oneself behind the wheel seems, for almost everyone, to lead to egotistic behavior, a situation where everyone is trying to gain something on someone else’s behalf. While driving a car, one’s fellow human beings (other drivers, public transport users, pedestrians, bikers) become nothing more than obstacles. Who cannot, honestly, recognise the almost aggressive and competitive feeling that the car produces in oneself? Since we do not want to encourage this kind of behaviour, and since we are confident that one is not born a motorist, but rather becomes one, we strongly believe that the risk of people becoming motorists has to be minimised.

Because of this we do not only want to change the order of the traffic hierarchy and take the car down from its pedestal. Rather, we want a society built on totally different premises. A society where no one is forced into motorism, whether passively or actively. A society where proximity and availability to what people need to satisfy their needs and desires are put at the forefront.

Mass action in Ankara subway

This morning (4th of february), one of the first acts to support general strike to support TEKEL (ex-monopoly for alcohol and tobacco) workers took place in Batıkent. The municipality delayed the departure of subway for one and a half hour as thousands of people claimed the right to free transportation. Meanwhile, hundreds of Batıkent residents chanted slogans to support TEKEL workers.
Against the rise of public transportation fees , hundreds of Batıkent residents used the right to free transportation. Claiming the right to public transportation and need for general strike, district organizations of Batıkent Halkevleri, ÖDP (freedom and solidarity party) and EMEP(labor party) called for protest and thousands of people responded the call by jumping over turnstiles .

Passengers were shouting out loud saying ;“We want free transportation”, “Cancel the rise of transportation fees”, “ The ordeal will fail so will Gökçek (Mayor of Ankara)”, “General strike, general resistance”. Batıkent residents emphasized that no one in Turkey should remain silent against the usurpation of the rights and chanted altogether;”Tekel workers are not alone”.

Against the protests and free access to subway, the municipality did not let the subways to move for one and a half hour. Although municipality announced that the subway stop was close due to protests, protesters did not give up and continued their acts.
After one and a half hour, the subway started to move and determinant protest of Batıkent residents proved success. They were chanting “ we will succeed thorugh determinant protests” and have decided to repeat the protest every day until the rise of fees are cancelled.

batıkentliler ücretsiz ulaşım için turnikelerden atladı from sendika.org on Vimeo.

Article about free public transport in Carbusters

Check out this article about free public transport from the latest issue of Carbusters!

It is great to promote walking and biking as alternatives to driving, and of course these two means of transportation are the most ecological and healthy. But we must acknowledge that not everyone has the luxury of being able to bike or walk to work, school or their leisure activities. Kids, people with disabilities and elderly, people living in suburbs far away from their work and people living in cities where the weather just isn’t suitable for being outside most of the year – for all of them biking or walking is hardly ever an option and this is something that needs to be addressed.

Annual report from Planka.nu (Stockholm, Sweden)

One year ago, when we summarized our 2008, we where a bit cocky and claimed that it had been our most active and successful year so far. We could definitely say the same thing this year as well, because 2009 where both productive and exciting for Planka.nu. Following is a brief account of some of the most fun things we did in 2009.

The year started with SL (the public transport company in Stockholm) making a bizarre promotion campaign towards university students, which we adbusted in the the student magazines. We formed the public transport opinion institute “Kollektivtrafikens Opinionsintitut” and made a big survey among commuters in Stockholm and their attitudes towards barrier-free public transport. The survey was then used in our report “At any Cost?” which was released to coincide with the free public transport day and got some good attention among politicians and the media.

The greenwashing happening Earth Hour was a golden opportunity to shed some light on the double standards of Sweden’s climate policies. Planka.nu lighted up the facade of the Swedish Ministry of Environment, who to our dismay choosed to join Earth Hour instead of doing something real about the climate problems.

The first of May was celebrated according to tradition, for the ninth year in a row we marched with the anarcho-syndicalist union, and for one of the first times the sun was shining!

We made a big survey among all our members and printed thousands and thousands of stickers to make the public transport system more attractive.

On the World Environment Day we arranged a climate crash together with our friends in Klimax and Friends of the Earth. For a few hours all car traffic on one of the biggest and most polluted streets in Stockholm where shut down and we had a street party. After this we took the ferry to Gotland to participate in Politikerveckan – the yearly spectacle for political broilers. When we got back home SL had made another funny and strange campaign to try to get to us, we countered with a new instruction movie on how to free ride in the public transport.

SL where spending most of August doing different campaigns against us, but it was an epic fail on their behalf since that month was one of our most active and we also got a lot of media coverage for our actions. Among other things we debated fare dodging on one of the biggest morning shows on Swedish television.

We introduced new and easier ways to pay for your membership, got over 9000 fans on our Facebook page and helped President Obama.

We celebrated the end of summer with a huge party in support of the workers at Lagena (whom where threatened to be fired and replaced with people from a staffing company), the party raised over 2000 euros. When school started we handed out free course literature to the students at the University of Stockholm, and two of our activists moved to Prague to work at the World Carfree Network (which we are a member of).

In September we participated at the big demonstration against the current right-wing government and went to Budapest to celebrate the European Mobility Week and take part in a ten day long workshop on urban planning. During the nights in Budapest we also managed to finish the first English translation of one of our reports, and we released Travel doesn’t have to cost the earth on the World Carfree Day.

On the fifteenth of October we participated in the blog action day. Some days later we printed 100.000 golden stickers. During November we had lectures in different cities every week, Gothenburg, Oslo, Malmo and Prague.

In the beginning of December we hosted another party, this time in support for Carbusters Magazine. The founder of critical mass, Chris Carlsson, held a lecture before the party and we released our second report in 2009, Trafikmaktsordningen (The hierarchy of traffic). Then we went to Copenhagen to party, meet new people, demonstrate and watch the disastrous outcome of the negotiations.

We finished the decade in style with a free showing of the movie Metropia and a new adbust campaign.

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New report: Travel doesn’t have to cost the earth!

In celebration of the World Carfree Day and the European Mobility Week we are today very proud to present our first English report. Travel doesn’t have to cost the earth is a translation of a report we released in Swedish last November. The report presents five concrete steps towards a climate-smart and fair transport sector in Stockholm.

Download the full report here [.pdf] and read the summary below.

Travel doesn't have to cost the earth

Summary

In 2009 the current Kyoto protocol will be replaced by a new international climate agreement. The Swedish EU presidency means that Sweden will play a key role when the world leaders gather in Copenhagen to sign the new agreement.

With this in mind, we in Planka.nu want to turn the focus from abstract percentages and climate targets to concrete political measures. The transport sector is the major climate villain in Sweden, being responsible for more than 40 percent of our environmentally hazardous emissions. The main culprit is road traffic, which since 1990 has increased its emissions with no less than 12 percent. Today it is responsible for approximately 30 percent of all emissions.

A powerful climate adjustment requires comprehensive infrastructural changes in the transport sector. The key to climate adjustment is to be found in the cities, where most of the emissions are generated. Through simple reforms such as planning our cities for public transport, bicycle and pedestrian transport, we can actively reduce car traffic and cut the emission rates in our cities.

This report presents five concrete steps towards a fair and climate-smart reconstruction of the Stockholm transport sector:

  • Transport-saving social planning
  • Major investments in rail-carried public transport
  • Stop on all road expansions
  • Car-free city-centre
  • Fare-free public transport

We hope that this report will contribute to a deeper discussion about how we want to shape our city, and put focus on the importance of a fairly conducted climate adjustment.

Planka.nu
Stockholm, Sweden
September 2009

Organized fare-dodgers in Paris jumping the barriers

If we refuse to buy tickets, it is not because we disrespect the common good, as many dutiful ticket-buyers might think, but on the contrary because we take it seriously.

Ideally, we consider it fair play to give an amount of money to benefit from a good public infrastructure. As it happens, we do pay for the transport system through our taxes. If we are required to pay for it twice, it is because the infrastructure devised to control the travellers – barriers, controllers, tickets offices, high-tech electronic coupons – is so expensive. If we got rid of all this, public transportation would be cheaper. It would also reduce pollution by encouraging people to use trains and buses instead of cars.

Besides the fact that tickets are hardly affordable for many of us, not buying them is also a way to boycott the policy of the Paris transportation company, the RATP, now partly privatized. Since the early eighties, the state, via the RATP, has been using the underground to shape a specific public space, half way between a supermarket and a prison. If the transport network has always had policing fonctions, such as the harassment of migrants and people who can’t afford tickets, it has become more fiercely militarized over the past few years. This space is also used to promote antisocial technologies like RFID cards, CCTV cameras and videoscreens, which travellers gradually learn to put up with because they have no choice. And of course, every inch of this « public » space is used up for advertisement, while the RATP forbids the handing out of any sort of political literature on its premises. Thus the transport system is much more than a way to go from one place to another: it is a sort of laboratory dedicated to order and consumption, testing various ways to manage crowds and manipulate individuals.

In this context, we find that jumping the barriers of the Paris underground makes a lot of sense.

Insurance for fare-dodgers

Fare-dodging is normally a solitary and a financially hazardous activity. Being part of a group of organized fare-dodgers allows you to walk around with your head high, illicit but insured.

How does that work ?

Fare-dodgers meet once a month in and around Paris. In each assembly, each member puts a small amount of money (6-7 euros) into a kitty, which is used to pay members’ fines. Since even a very unlucky person cannot be fined more than 4 or 5 times a year, the group easily balances its books.

Each group of fare-dodgers is a democratic and sovereign assembly. At meetings, we devise and exchange tricks to get through metro barriers; we plan events and direct action; and we collect money and pay back fines. This system is based on mutual trust and to my knowledge there have been no cases of misappropriation – which has to do with organizing on a small-scale, each assembly consisting of 10 to 30 members.

The oldest of these groups is now 4 years-old and there are at least 5 other assemblies of fare-dodgers in Paris. Needless to say, we encourage any informal group of friends or colleagues to do the same and adapt the formula to their needs and desires, and to the characteristics of the transport system of their city.

http:/metro.samizdat.net
gratuit@samizdat.net

Meetings every first wednesday of the month at CICP, 21ter rue Voltaire, 75011 Paris, 19:30.

Successful Free Transport Day in Bremen!

On the 16th of May, the Klimaplenum Bremen, an independent local environmental group, organized a “Free Transport Day” (Umsonstfahrtag) in their hometown in northern Germany. Activists gathered to ride trains and buses for free and to engage the public in discussions on local transport issues.

The demand for free local transport stems from both ecological and social concerns: the goal is as much to reduce private traffic and CO2 emissions as it is to allow mobility for everyone regardless of income and financial resources.

Actions related to the protest reached from manipulating billboards of the local transport authority, marking ticket vending machines as “out of order”, distributing information material, and talking to train and bus passengers. The reception among the latter was generally positive. While the media focused on the protesters’ environmental demands, the passengers seemed particularly interested in alternative fare policies.

The transport authority had voiced its objection to the protest and had instructed its drivers to remind the free riders that their actions were illegal. However, no drastic measures were taken to prevent the protest, probably due to its relative popularity among the public.


More information (in german) and pictures at Indymedia

Bremen: Freerideday – Reclaim your public transport!

On saturday the 16th of may there will be actions for free public transport in the german city Bremen. The organizers are stressing opposition to ever-raising fares and the importance of public transport in the battle against climate changes.

On the 16th people will use public transports without paying, controlling the ticket-controllers and engage in “critical mass“-actions.

If you are nearby, join in!

More information: Klimaplanum Bremen